I'm writing this today as I have no else to turn to for advice, no one that will listen at any rate.
Despite my best intentions, I have ended up stuck between a rock and a hard place. I work about 12 hours a week in a part time job and am constantly told I am being lazy. The truth is that this is the only job I have ever been good at, but my family tells me constantly to leave and go for anything else... Believe me, I checked, and they haven't, there is nothing else around here job wise.
If the rubbish hours and minimum wage wasn't enough, the place is also going under from lack of customers. Two chefs have already left and everyone else is chasing suit.
If I stick around I may go down with the ship and could just be let off before Christmas. If I leave now I end up being broke and back on JSA, which I promised myself I would never do again.
Is there any advice you can offer? Thanks.
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Hi, King Rusty,
Sorry for the slow reply. Can you tell me more about your current job? Are you working in a restaurant? Where in England do you live? What is your educational background? I need more information before I can give you a decent answer.
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Thanks for responding.
I do work in the UK and I do work in a restaurant; it is more of a pub first, though, but the food is the only real reason people have continued to visit this place in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, it has gone even more downhill that when I first sent the message to you. The head chef has quit, the sous chef has left after handing in her notice and our best waitresses have left with her as they look for anything better. The place is really struggling now and with the holidays coming up I now worry about how permanent my place here is.
As for my education I would say I did two years at college but harbor no real skills from my time there besides a basic math, English and IT certificates. Nothing astounding anyways.
If you require addition info just let me know.
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Being that it sounds as if this job is not going to last you, the only reasonable thing for you to do is start looking for other employment (it is always better to interview when you are employed than when you are out of work). I did a little research and see that, for some reason, restaurants and pubs are struggling in the UK and many are closing. However, since that is your work background, I would start looking in food service—at least in the short term.
While there might be no openings last time you checked, that can change at any moment, so keep on the lookout for openings and don’t be too picky (pickiness is a luxury you cannot afford right now). Here are some options/advice:
So I'm having trouble with getting out of my toxic household and commissions haven't been of much help. My job has cut my hours and I feel very lost on how to escape. Been trying to apply to other jobs but so far I've been getting silence and a mountain of rejections. How can I get out of this mess as quickly as possible?
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I'd like to have more information before I offer advice on this one, please. Here are some questions:
1. What education do you currently have?
2. What is your current job?
3. What are your career goals?
4. What types of jobs are you applying for?
5. Are you living in a small community with few opportunities, or a large one?
6. What job skills do you currently have?
Answering these will help.
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Art therapy can be an immensely satisfying job. I have a friend who is an art therapist in Fresno and he enjoys it greatly. But to get a job in that field you really need at least a master's degree, so after you get your AA, you will need a minimum of three more years of college education. As for working in the video game industry, if you mean as a programmer or designer, you would also need considerably more training. This is an incredibly competitive industry, and only the most avid people who eat, breathe, and live video games have any chance of getting a job. From your email, it doesn't sound to me as if you have the obsession and passion required to succeed here (could be wrong; could be a lot you haven't told me yet).
On the short term, if you are simply looking to get some kind of full-time job as a clerk or other similar position, then it would seem to me that being bilingual in Miami would be an enormous benefit; if you don't already do so, you should play that up when you apply to jobs in your area.
Since you are interested in finding something that will help you get out of the house sooner, and because it sounds like you're good with computers, I would like to recommend that you start studying to get an IT certification of some sort. There are a wide variety of certifications available, and many of them can be accomplished in a matter of weeks or months. You can also make good money in areas such as network engineer, systems administrator, or (an area that is hugely short of people right now), some type of security analyst.
If I were you, this is the course I would steer toward for the short-term, at least. Continue to look for the jobs you are seeking now, but apply to a good IT school and get yourself certified. Then find a better-paying job, move out of the house, and, as time allows, seek your preferred degree in the arts.
I hope that is helpful!
Long time reader of your column and I've benefited from a lot of the insights found in your work. So, thank you for all that you do for people around the world!
To start off with, I am a college student. I take full-time classes, work an on-campus job, run an exec position of a club, and participate in two other clubs. After that, I have all of my friends and personal projects. You can already see that I keep myself very busy and run on very little sleep.
But my sleeping pattern isn't what I chose to write to you about. I give so much of myself to everything I do, I've never been known to do anything half-way. The reason is that I love everything that I do, and I have yet to find anything that I haven't found interest in or excelled at naturally.
Want an actor, artist, digital designer, costumer, film editor, special effect artist? I'm you're guy. Need a handyman, carpenter, cement layer, minor electrician? I'm also that guy.
I love the critical thinking of mathematics, the mystery of chemistry, the factoids and reasoning behind historical events, and the endless storytelling possibilities of writing. That was long-winded, but I truly do so much and I'm always hearing from family:
"Oh! But you have so much potential." "You're too smart to be in theatre." "You have such a mind for math." And the endless, "You should do" this and "you should do" that.
Currently I'm studying to become a theatre costume tech major, and a dance and Japanese double minor. I made my mind up about that a long time ago. But hearing my family criticize that, or even all the sour looks when I mention going into theatre, really makes me feel hollow about my one solid decision.
I take it well. I explain all that I know: that the job field for a technician has a lot less competition than acting. That "one can always find a job as a technician," as I have heard many times from my friends and coworkers.
I guess my real issue isn't in coping with my family, or how to communicate with them about MY decision. The issue is how to cope with potential. If life is full of possibilities, and everyone is to find their niche in life, what happens to the people that could fit anywhere? I could do anything and be anything and be happy. But I would be missing out on everything else to dedicate my life to just a few of the things I care about.
This must sound like a weird problem to have. I'm sorry if this is confusing. I have always lived my life without restricting myself by saying "I can't do something." Instead, I always found something I liked about what I was doing and found drive in that.
My family means well, but all of the constant what-ifs that come from looking into other paths just bring me down. How should I go about reconciling with my family? And settling this gnawing feeling in my gut about everything I might miss out on in life?
I know I'm still young. But I thought I would ask your opinion on the matter.
Rillee Satranack (North Carolina, age 20)
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The first thing to get out of the way is your concern about your family's opinion. I don't have to tell you that this is your life and your career, so the choice that matters is yours, not theirs. If they are a good family (and I'm sure they are) they aren't going to hate you because you choose some job they don't agree with. Agreed? So put that out of your head right now.
With that aside, you're left with the issue of what to do when you have a dozen interests and enjoy them all? Looking at your list of avocations, I can't help but think that, yeah, all of them pertain to the movie industry. I mean, seriously: storytelling is obvious, and so are costumer, film editor, acting, special effects....
But the other stuff all can pertain to moviemaking, as well. Carpentry, cement laying, electrician work are all relevant to set design. Chemistry is relevant to special effects (mathematics, as well). History is relevant to good storytelling.
I'm not sure what a "theatre costume tech major" is, but I would suggest you study moviemaking. You don't say what university you go to, but according to this article, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts ranks fourteenth among the best U.S. schools to major in film studies.
I'd suggest changing majors to film studies and go for it. You sound like a natural, and you could combine all your interests into one!
Over some time I have felt my childhood dreams will not make me successful in the future, and have had people who try to get me to adopt "you cannot have happiness without sadness" or "there is no such thing as a perfect life" that seem needlessly complex. I also read "your child's genius is within his dreams," so I feel torn.
My childhood dreams were to have a secret underground bunker with supplies that lets me go on missions, like what you see in movies. Have a space base that was something like the Enterprise from Star Trek, so my imaginary friends and I could save the universe. Have a big house in an isolated place, being taken care of financially, so I could live a simple life free of doubt, worry, fear, not working from paycheck to paycheck, etc.; and I mean a house in the middle of nature, a forest, rolling hills, or where it snows.
Is this normal growing up? What should I believe? One side note is my parents have now divorced and I am living with my dad.
I wish the best for you!
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It’s very nice to have dreams. Dreams can inspire us to do great things. But to achieve those great things requires work. The first “uh oh” I see in your letter is the phrase that you wish to be “taken care of financially.” You mean, someone will just give you all the money you need to achieve your dreams? I would not count on that.
But if you mean you would work hard to take care of your financial needs and then move to your lovely home in the woods, that’s doable, assuming you, again, are willing to work for it.
Are there dreams that are too big? Such as having an underground bunker or a space base? Hmm, well, there is a billionaire named Richard Branson who founded the private space travel company Virgin Galactic. But Branson achieved this by a huge drive as an entrepreneur, starting a company that would become the Virgin Group when he was still a teenager. Are you willing to work that hard?
Don’t let people tell you that you can’t dream, Nick. But, at the same time, if you really want those dreams to come true you need to be willing to do the legwork.
P.S. Sorry to hear your parents have divorced. I wish you the best, too.
I live with my 24-year-old brother, and my 78-year-old grandfather. My grandfather and my brother pay for the rent and food, more or less, they pay for everything. I contribute to the household by helping my granddad remember to take his medication, helping him cook dinner and clean the house, and making sure he doesn't fall asleep why baking or cooking, which has happened before. My brother and I agreed to this arrangement together and I don't want to get a job, I like the arrangement. Lately, after my brother gets off work, I have been leaving social media to bring him his dinner, and rub pain relieving gel on his joints because he's had arthritis since he was five. My friends hate it even though I have explained in detail that I like our arrangement and why, and they have recently began asking why he can't do things for himself and why he can't act like a grown man. They treat me helping him do things as something that is weird or gross and one went so far as to say I need to get a job and help pay bills because women have equal rights. What is a nice way to ask them to mind their own business?
Rosie (age 21)
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I’ve always been of the mindset that whatever works for you is what you should do, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone (including yourself). Taking care of your grandfather and brother, as well as the house, including cooking and so on, is what you enjoy doing, and Papabear thinks that’s fine. Not that long ago, we used to call people like that “homemakers” or the less PC “housewives.” Being a homemaker was considered an honorable and helpful thing to do with one’s life. There was no shame in it.
Today, as you’ve experienced, Americans expect both men and women to be career-driven; they should “want to do something with their lives.” Well, who says taking caring for one’s family isn’t doing something? (Note: this doesn’t apply to just women; men make perfectly good homemakers and, in fact, many do so). Papabear agrees with you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with what you are doing with your life so long as you enjoy it and find it fulfilling.
That said, you should not be entirely closed-minded to your friends’ advice, not because you need their approval or anything like that, but rather for self-preservation. Let me tell you a short story. My mother was a professional dietician when she met and married my father, and they agreed that when children came along she would quit work, stay at home, and raise me and my sister. All well and good. She didn’t work for decades, and then when the marriage fell apart she ended up with no job prospects because she hadn’t worked for so many years. She had to live with my grandfather, who treated her like a slave until he died (fortunately, she inherited enough from him to survive afterwards). The point is this: had she had a job to fall back on, she wouldn’t have been placed into such awful circumstances for many years. In other words, be prepared.
What happens to you on that sad day after your grandfather dies? And then, say, your brother gets married and doesn’t need you rubbing his joints any longer because his wife helps him? You need to think of such things because what works well now could be gone tomorrow.
Always have a Plan B.
One suggestion I have for you, since you enjoy taking care of others, is a career as—get this—a caregiver. This is a growing business, especially with the soaring number of senior citizens in this country as the Baby Boomers reach retirement. Here is a concise and helpful article about becoming a professional in the field: https://www.caring.com/articles/how-to-become-a-professional-caregiver. You can find employment from businesses that require little or even no previous experience or education, but you will likely do better salary-wise if you get some extra training.
Of course, you don’t have to become a caregiver; you could find another job that strikes your fancy, but that is a suggestion from Papabear. I would also suggest you begin exploring your options now, while you are in a comfortable situation, rather than waiting for something to happen when you become desperate for a job.
As for the question you ask at the end of your letter, try something like this: “I really appreciate your concern about my welfare and your interest in my life, thank you. Right now, things are working well for me and I’m happy, but I am seriously thinking about what you have said and am exploring my options in life.”
I have a few friends at school and on FurAffinity. They like me and I like them. School is mildly hard, but my parents help me through it and push. My parents are getting a divorce, but for some reason I have not been affected by this very much. I love them both and they each help me in their own ways.
But there is one other thing that I struggle with. I always feel as if I have to keep pushing myself, always, and I have to let go of some things that I value such as kindness in order to "man up" for the real world, and if I don't do it right now I will never be completely successful. But if I do keep pushing myself and going through life that is always moderately challenging, I will lose some kindness. Is this normal? And what should I do? Thank you, "high paws."
NickHusky (age 19)
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You speak in generalities, so I will as well. You are at a critical time in your life that will, indeed, do a lot for molding who you will become as an adult. And you are undergoing the kind of family and social pressures that our society deems fit for a male; that is, you should be “tough,” “man up,” hide your emotions, be strong, etc. etc. In other words, as with almost everyone else in the mundane world, you are being asked to put that mask on and hide who you really are inside. The threat here is that if you don’t do this you will be, as you say, unsuccessful, which means things like have a high-paying job, acquire lots of material possessions, breed, pay taxes, and die quietly without troubling society or rocking the boat.
Papabear says, “Poppycock.” The brave man (or woman) isn’t the one who hides emotions but the one who is emotionally honest, who cares about the world and feels compassion for others. Success--real success—in life is not about wealth, fame, or power. These are the things that give mundanes (pardon me for saying this) boners because the majority of people are shallow, self-centered, and materialistic.
And you know what else they are? Unhappy!
This skewed viewpoint causes people (and you are in danger of this right now) to do things for the wrong reasons. They get college degrees because they want a high-paying job. They select a career because they want to make a lot of money doing it. They even choose a spouse because they are “the right people.”
Here’s my challenge to you: go to school because you love learning; get a job because it is something you love to do (if you have a job you love, you will never work a day in your life, as they say, because your job will be fun and fulfilling); choose a mate—whether it is someone similar to you or not—because you see into their heart and fall in love.
You love your parents and they are trying to help you. That’s a wonderful thing. Although I don’t know your parents, I suspect they are like most parents: they are scared for you, they don’t want you to be poor, and they want you to be accepted by society. But Papabear can tell you something here: he gets more letters from unhappy people because they are too busy trying to please their parents or someone else instead of themselves. Consequently, they don’t learn who they really are, and so they go through the motions of life without really living.
Let you in on a very secret secret, Nick: the truly happy person doesn’t define success by money and material things but, rather, by his or her ability to discover who they truly are as a person and to search for, and even discover, what life is really about for them. Each person must find his or her own path. While I can’t define that path for you because it is a personal journey, I can tell you that if you seek a pot of gold at the end of the journey you will have wasted your life.
Your job, Nick, is not to “grow up,” or “man up,” but to discover who you are. I have high hopes for you because I can see you value kindness. Please, I beg you, don’t sacrifice your heart just to be part of the swarms of mundane society. Be a kind person and you will find more happiness than you ever imagined.
Thank you for your letter.
So for as long as I can remember I've really wanted to be a teacher; they helped me so much in school and I knew I wanted to be able to help others.
The problem is being furry. I'm not public and any videos of me at fur cons is limited to my face (which I'm not worried about).
I'm more worried about my being linked to my actual account. There IS adult art/stories attached to it, and I know how people outside the fandom tend to overanalyze it as something more than it is.
Any advice, or should I look into doing something else with my life?
Vojeto (age 21)
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It’s certainly possible to be a furry and have a career in any number of fields, but this can be a little trickier if the job involves minors, such as being a teacher at the high school or lower level. The issue there isn’t so much that you’re a furry but that it can be perceived that you are some sort of pedophile. Of course, if you have any babyfur preferences, that would be a huge red flag. But even without that, many people consider furry some kind of fetish thing, and that can, indeed, cause you headaches.
All 50 U.S. states require school systems to do background checks on teachers (both current and potential hires). They check, of course, for any criminal history, but also credit history, bankruptcies, employment records, medical records, civil records, education certification, driving records, history of where you have lived, and so on. Schools might hire independent agencies to do background checks, and prices vary depending on how deeply they want to go into your history. I honestly don't know if such services scan the Internet to see if they find any prurient website accounts, but you never know.
I’d like to pause here and ask you this: is it essential that you be a teacher in a public school system in order for you to be happy? Before you answer that, I would advise you to talk to some actual teachers (especially retired ones who can speak more freely). The ones I have known who have worked in public schools have been extremely unhappy, many of them quit or retire early. It’s not because of the students (they love the students), but, rather, the administrators they deal with and the government interference in the education process. The bureaucracy and the restrictions on the freedom to teach have become so heinous that literally every teacher I have known who taught grade school through high school said that they couldn’t take it anymore.
Now, this improves somewhat at the college level, but not much. My sister is a college professor, and while she has more freedom to teach she spends so much time on administrative work—as do her colleagues—that the joke among them is “teaching is something we do when we have spare time.”
While I don’t want to discourage you, and I think teaching is a noble profession, I do advise you to look deeply into what you are getting into. The American education system is a shambles. If you do go into that setting, you should definitely, at minimum, keep any and all furporn off sites associated with your account.
Alternatively, you could have a very different experience in a private school setting, so you might want to look into that. And there are many other ways to have a fulfilling career outside the public school system (take a look at the list here). If you become a private tutor, help with home-schooled children, or teach GED students, you could not only find a career that avoids the hazards of dealing with public administrators, but some of these alternatives could be less likely to interfere with your furry life (although, when working with any education company, there will still be background checks).
In addition to the above, teaching is, of course, not limited to the ‘Riting, Reading, ‘Rithmetic trio. I’m not sure what subjects interest you, but teaching can involve everything from being an acting coach to a yoga instructor. Again, if you pursue a more private, independent career you are less likely to have people nosing around in your furry life. Oh, and don’t ignore the possibility of teaching adult students, too!
Hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck!
P.S. I would love to know if any of my furry readers are also teachers and what their experiences have been!
Dear Mr. Grizzly,
I had been considering becoming an ESL (English as a second language) teacher for some time, but it wasn't until the last six months I had decided to do it. In order to do this, I will have to get a bachelor's degree in something (it doesn't really matter what), get a TEFL certificate and move to the country I signed up for. There are some countries that don't require a BA, but I'm a bit more skeptical about those places. I have been considering teaching somewhere in east Asia, like China, Japan, or South Korea. I also want to work on a graphic novel in my spare time.
I have been very indecisive about my career choice for a long time, and my family knows this. My mom and my stepdad are supportive of my choice, but my dad and my stepmom aren't that much. Literally right after I brought it up to my dad he asked me "So, have you thought about anything ELSE you'd like to do?"
When I went to visit them a couple weeks ago, they literally told me to stop going to college and to start going to a technical school, so can get a "real" job, I suppose. Whenever I bring this up to them, they try to change my mind. I've slowly been learning the fact that you can't live up to everyone's expectations, and that it's a waste of time to try.
How do I put my foot down and tell them that I've made my decision, and that I want to follow my dream?
Caleb (age 19, Michigan)
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I’m confused why your parents think TESL is not a “real” job. It’s a very real job, and an excellent one at that. There is high demand for it, and if you’re good at your job you will likely never be unemployed. One suspicion I have is that your parents don’t want you to move out of the country and they would miss you. That’s understandable, but a bit selfish on their part. If I were you, I would pursue the following course:
Now, while I would pick China, I did a little research and found an excellent article by an ESL teacher in China in which South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China are compared. Overall, this person picks South Korea, but here’s a link to help you pick for yourself. And here is a helpful site on ESL careers in general.
Besides perhaps not wanting their baby to move to Asia, your parents might also be woefully misinformed about what an ESL job is and what it entails. Your job, in order to convince them, is to provide them with information about how great a career choice it actually is. Not only will you make a decent income, you will also gain an incredible amount of life experience that will serve you well for years to come.
Judging by your parents’ comments (and where you live), I’m guessing they are blue collar workers who have lived all their lives in the Midwest, thus developing a rather colloquial attitude about the world in which factory and farm work are “more real” than academics and culture. You need to get them out of this mindset, but in a way they will understand: and that way is to show them you can make a good income and be a success. This isn’t like you are flitting off to Asia to party and occasionally teach a class; this is a serious career choice. So, gather up your research and make your case.
One last thing I’d suggest is to ease off the “put my foot down” strategy. After all (pretty sure of this) it’s your parents who are likely going to do a lot of the heavy lifting in paying for your higher education. Therefore, approach it like you would a salesman making his pitch to a large company for a long-term investment (you are their investment in the future). Don’t go for the emotion; go for hard facts. Don’t use glitzy, starry-eyed words such as “this is my dream,” but, rather, use words they understand, such as “I can make a salary in China that will allow me to put almost half my income away for savings and investments for the future....”
That should help. Good luck! I’m routing for you!
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.